Book Score: 2
The Memory Box is the debut novel of Eva Lesko Natiello. It bills itself as a psychological thriller, and to be fair, keeps the twists and turns coming to the end. The premise is interesting: a suburban housewife and mother of two Googles herself and uncovers an entire unsettling life that she has forgotten, including a sister who has died. She tries to piece together what happened and what exactly caused her to forget. In the meantime, her present life falls apart around her.
Sounds pretty good, right? But there are issues with book. First, let’s just acknowledge that unreliable narrators are hard to pull off, and when they are done poorly it can be really annoying. The main character of The Memory Box, Caroline, is the quintessential unreliable narrator, partly because she doesn’t remember her own history and is apparently suffering a nervous breakdown, and partly because [spoilers]. And while Natiello does a fair job navigating through the pitfalls of a crumbling protagonist, the Big Reveal at the end feels cheap and contrived. The tape recorded sessions with her psychologist that fill in large blocks of story also feel a bit too convenient, and the reading from the psychic feels like something that should have landed on the cutting room floor.
Overall, while you won’t regret reading this book, you also won’t have missed much should you skip it.